Around 132,000 people aged 18 and above remain unvaccinated, 300 medically ineligible: Ong Ye Kung
SINGAPORE — Around 132,000 individuals aged 18 years and above remain unvaccinated, while around 300 persons are medically ineligible.
- Around 132,000 people aged 18 and above remain unvaccinated against Covid-19, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said
- He said it is too early to tell if more booster shots will be needed for the coronavirus
- Omicron will be the dominant coronavirus variant in Singapore within a few weeks, he added
- The Government will tighten restrictions as a last resort if the healthcare system is under severe pressure
SINGAPORE — Around 132,000 individuals aged 18 years and above remain unvaccinated against Covid-19, while around 300 persons are medically ineligible.
And among the 802 deaths related to the disease last year, 555 were unvaccinated patients, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament on Monday (Jan 10).
"Although the unvaccinated is a small proportion of our population, they contributed to 70 per cent of the deaths in 2021."
The Government will continue to try to persuade those who are medically eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine but are still unvaccinated to get their jabs, he added, though it is "harder and harder" to convince them as the number gets smaller.
Mr Ong was responding to 17 vaccine-related parliamentary questions filed by Members of Parliament (MPs) for the first parliamentary sitting of the year.
Responding to the questions on vaccine boosters, Mr Ong said that about 46 per cent of the population has received their boosters so far.
“We have recently brought some 900,000 individuals aged 18 to 29 into the booster programme, of whom 700,000 are already eligible to receive their boosters today. Our booster coverage will continue to expand over the month of January.”
The validity period of 270 days for full vaccination status is also a “strong signal” to the population to get their boosters promptly, he said.
It is too early to tell if there will be a need for further booster shots and Mr Ong noted that Israel is the only country that has authorised a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for non-immunocompromised individuals so far.
He added that it could be "a possible future scenario" to have regular booster shots, as is the case with endemic infectious diseases such as influenza.
NUMBER OF COVID-19 DEATHS
Responding to Mr Dennis Tan, Workers' Party MP for Hougang, who asked for the breakdown of Covid-19 deaths, Mr Ong said that there were 802 such deaths last year, of whom 555 or 70 per cent were not fully vaccinated.
The remaining 247 were vaccinated with a range of vaccines available here. This figure translates to about 30 per cent of fully vaccinated individuals who died from Covid-19 last year.
The minister also provided crude incidence rates for deaths per 100,000 people based on the vaccines they took:
- 79 deaths per 100,000 were patients who had not been fully vaccinated
- 11 deaths per 100,000 were those vaccinated with Sinovac
- 7.8 per 100,000 were vaccinated with Sinopharm
- 6.2 per 100,000 were vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech
- One per 100,000 were vaccinated with Moderna
"These rates are only indicative. As I mentioned, the sample size is small and they also do not account for other factors that may affect mortality such as the age and timing of vaccination."
STEEP RISE IN OMICRON CASES EXPECTED
Mr Ong said that given the transmissibility of the Omicron coronavirus strain, the Government expects the number of Covid-19 cases to rise steeply in the coming weeks and for the variant to become the dominant variant in Singapore within a few weeks.
He noted that the overall infection cases here have been creeping up to a few hundred a day, with Omicron cases accounting for 40 per cent of all infections.
As of Sunday night, Singapore has recorded 4,322 Omicron infections so far, including 308 patients aged 60 and above.
“Eight of them out of the 4,322 needed oxygen supplementation and all of them have been taken off oxygen after a short few days. None required care in intensive care units (ICUs) as yet,” Mr Ong said.
“In comparison, if these 4,322 infections had instead been caused by Delta, we would expect 50 to 60 patients needing oxygen supplementation, ICU care or to die,” he added, but warned that it was still early days and circumstances could change.
The responses that the Government developed against the Delta variant will continue to be relevant against Omicron, but with some adjustments, Mr Ong said.
These include the roll-out of vaccinations and booster shots, the expansion of Singapore’s healthcare capacity and safe management measures.
Responding to questions by MPs on whether there is likely to be a tightening of infection controls because of the Omicron wave, Mr Ong, who is co-chair of the Covid-19 ministerial task force, said that it hopes not to do so.
“When the Delta wave subsided late last year, we refrained from being too jubilant and over-relaxing restrictions. That would have been a mistake. We kept our masking requirements, did not allow back night entertainment and kept group sizes at five.
“It is the ministerial task force’s hope that we can ride through the Omicron wave with the current safe management measures posture. If we have to tighten the restrictions, it will be as a last resort when our healthcare system is under severe pressure.”